It was another largely successful session for the Indiana Township Association, with a couple of our priority issues being enacted and (once again) no onerous government reform efforts being passed by the General Assembly. Though the momentum on government reform has certainly swung in our favor over the last two sessions, we have no doubt that we will continue to fight efforts in future sessions- most likely on the issue of retaining township boards.
But those issues will be fought another day, so we will instead focus on the positives that came out of this session. SEA 343 (Local government reorganization), authored by Senate Local Government Chair Randy Head (R- Logansport) and sponsored by Rep. Kathy Richardson (R- Noblesville), makes a number of beneficial changes to the voluntary reorganization process, including a clarification of the voting process for a merger between a township and a municipality. This language, which was actively promoted by the ITA, specifies that a bifurcated vote is required under those circumstances so that those residents outside of the municipality must approve the referendum separately from those residents within the municipal boundary. This ensures that the voices of the unincorporated residents will be heard in the process. The bill also eliminates the requirement for a reorganization committee to be established as part of the process and adds a requirement for the reorganization plan to include a fiscal impact analysis.
Another ITA priority was adopted in HEA 1276 (Township board meetings), which was carried by former trustee Rep. Rick Niemeyer (R- Lowell) and Sen. Sue Landske (R- Cedar Lake). This relatively simple bill pushes back by one month the deadline for township boards to approve the annual report. The bill was amended in the House to also eliminate the requirement for a unanimous vote to reduce the salaries of township board members. Read more...
As Indianapolis’s downtown Hilton played host to this year’s Indiana Township Association's annual legislative conference held earlier this month, this year’s dinner was especially poignant. The honorable Jean Paul Lushin, Center Township Trustee of Howard County was surprised as he was presented with the association's lifetime achievement award. The award, the first of its kind was created by resolution and named in Mr Lushin's honor, “Jean Paul Lushin Lifetime Achievement Award” was presented to Lushin in recognition of his extraordinary level of accomplishment and proven litany of achievements.
As one speaker after another took to the podium lauding Lushin's many worthwhile endeavors, it was clear that party affiliation was a non-issue. Lushin, a Democrat office holder was heralded by Republicans and Democrats alike for his mentoring to drafting legislation. For those people familiar with townships, the name Lushin is synonymous with this grassroots form of government. Township officials, those who support them and those who seek their end are all familiar with the invaluable consequential contributions Jean Paul Lushin has made.
In an emotion charged atmosphere brimming with applauding Indiana township trustees, state legislators and invited guests rising to their feet, an astonished and humbled Lushin took to the podium. Lushin graciously thanked all for what he declared, “an incredible journey,” and reminded everyone, “the journey is more important than the prize.” Later, Lushin responded to those questioning his future involvement in township government by saying, “The journey is not over.”
The 2013 Session of the Indiana General Assembly convened on Monday, January 7th, ushering in an era of nearly unprecedented change at the Statehouse. Your ITA Legislative Team will be working with a new Governor, a new Chairman of the Senate Local Government Committee, and 29 newly-elected legislators over the next four months, educating them on issues important to township government. Though we expect a different tone on local government issues at the Statehouse, we will certainly be prepared to oppose any harmful forced consolidation measures while promoting several initiatives that will allow you to better serve your communities.
Former Congressman Mike Pence was elected in November as Indiana’s 50th Governor, succeeding Governor Mitch Daniels and bringing a fresh new perspective on government reform discussions. During the campaign, Governor Pence frequently cited his small-town roots and spent time talking with local officials to learn more about the services they provide. We look forward to fostering a strong working relationship with the new Governor in the coming months.
We also look forward to working with the new Chairman of the Senate Local Government Committee- Senator Randy Head (R- Logansport). Senator Head is replacing former Senator Connie Lawson, who is now serving as Secretary of State. We have had the opportunity to work with Senator Head on a number of issues over the last several sessions, and look to continue that connection in his new role as Chairman.Read more...